BAGUIO CITY – The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) noted “with concern” the Global Impunity Index (GII) released by the USbased press freedom advocacy group Committee to Protect
Journalists (CPJ), where the country remained in 7th place, its rank since 2020. PTFoMS juxtaposed such
findings by the CPJ with the latter’s ranking of the country in 2020 as the “most improved” country in the world moving from 5th to 7th place.

The Task Force maintained that safety of all journalists and media practitioners is a top priority of
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., as his administration condemns “in the strongest terms all cases of threats, harassment, or violence committed against the members of the press, and it is working very hard with all government agencies and stakeholders to address this problem.”

According to CPJ, the GII calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population. The 7th rank was expected because the report covered a ten-year period between September 1, 2012, and August 31, 2022. However, PTFoMS noted, “most of the cases that transpired during this ten-year period have already been fully investigated, with cases already filed in court.” The PTFoMS has already set up plans to work with the judiciary to prioritize these cases, it said citing, the
suspect in the killing of radio broadcaster Renato B. Blanco that was mentioned in CPJ’S report has already been arrested.

Blanco was stabbed to death on September 18, 2022 by accused Charles Amada, who is currently undergoing trial for murder at the Regional Trial Court in Negros Oriental. The PTFoMS has actually
communicated this information with Shawn W. Crispin, Senior Southeast Asia Representative of CPJ, the Task Force said. Importance is also being given to the Percival Mabasa case, PTFoMS also stressed,
“with government manpower and resources” poured into the investigation. “We have to trust our law enforcement agencies that they will be doing their best in bringing to justice all of the perpetrators behind this heinous crime.”

The PTFoMS also assured that is currently working with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and media groups to develop guidelines on how law enforcement agencies will protect media workers, noting the so-called “Media Security Vanguards” or PTFoMS’ focal persons composed of the PNP’s Public Information Officers (PIOs) nationwide that were established during the last election is still an ongoing program, in collaboration with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the PNP.

Through this initiative, journalists all over the country now have a “first line of defense” as these vanguards
are tasked and trained to receive and respond to all threats leveled against any media worker, the Task Force explained. PTFoMS also reiterated that the Philippines is not included in CPJ’s list of “World’s
Worst Places to Be a Journalist” or “10 Most Censored Countries” in the world. In the 2022 Director-
General Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity released recently by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it has again cited the numerous
programs and initiatives made by the government through PTFoMS to protect journalists in the country.

The PTFoMS also beamed of working with various media groups and civil society organizations for the
implementation of the Philippine Plan Of Action On The Safety Of Journalists or PPASJ, a first in the world, patterned after the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
The PPSAJ which the PTFoMS fully supports was crafted to strengthen the enabling environment for the
exercise of press freedom and to establish safety mechanisms for journalists and media workers that are locally anchored and sustainable.

During the President’s Night with the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) last October 5, 2022, President Marcos Jr. reaffirmed the government’s commitment to safeguarding press freedom, “I share your club’s conviction in the importance of upholding the universal right of free speech and press freedom as well as
giving and receiving accurate information, I’m committed to remain open with you, constantly communicating our progress as we move forward.” He continued, “under my lead, we will support and protect the rights of the media as they efficiently perform their duty.

Whatever difficulties we may encounter from this point on, the government will always be ready to lend an ear and to listen to your concerns and to answer all that you may want to know.” The PTFoMS stressed that the Marcos administration through the PTFoMS will continue to remain proactive and unwavering in its mandate to defend media freedom in the Philippines by protecting the life, liberty, and security of media
workers. It also reminded journalists, broadcasters, and media practitioners to report any incident of threat and harassment so that the matter can be thoroughly and swiftly investigated. The PTFoMS also assured
government can provide any journalist or media worker with real-time police security.

Artemio A. Dumlao/ABN

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